Dr. R. Smith Laments the Villification of New Ideas

How is progress impeded? Dr. R. Smith laments the vilification of new ideas.

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“It took a hundred years before Harvey’s discovery of the circulation of blood was generally acknowledged.”


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I would like to wish all my fellow homeopaths and health-care providers in natural medicine around the world a healthy and successful year for 2014. Certainly it is an exciting time for homeopathy, as it is one of the most fast growing medical sciences globally due to higher public awareness!

I would like to share with you an interesting extract from lecture notes of Dr. R. Smith, a Homeopath Physician of Toronto – Canada, in the year 1857.

“Soon after, the steam-boat made its appearance, and then the animated steam car was seen puffing along the ironed track, at a rate of speed far beyond all precedent in this or any previous age, these discoveries and improvements were great in their day, but they have ceased to strike us with astonishment, for now we send our thoughts in hieroglyphics by the lightning’s flash. While these discoveries and improvements have been going on in science, the wonder-working power of the human mind has not been confined to it alone. But the arts also have demanded and received great accessions. The improvements of machinery and the application of the science of chemistry to the arts have advanced them beyond all calculation. However, it is a source of deep regret that medicine has not, formerly, kept pace with the other art of life.

Sir William Knighton, who stood at the head of his profession, and who was the physician to King George, in one of his private letters published after his death, touching this point, says: “It is somewhat strange that, though in many arts and sciences, improvement has advanced in a step of regular progression from the first, in others it has kept no pace with time; and we look back to ancient excellence with wonder not unmixed with awe. Medicine seems to be one of those ill-fated arts, whose improvement bears no proportion to its antiquity. This is lamentably true, although Anatomy has been better illustrated, the Materia Medica enlarged, and Chemistry better understood.

In the first place we shall take occasion to show that one of the chief causes why the science of Medicine has not kept pace in its progress, with the other art of life, is that every new step has been met with virulent opposition; it has been treated as quackery.

It took a hundred years before Harvey’s discovery of the circulation of blood was generally acknowledged. How were the teachings of the immortal Harvey, in regard to circulation first received? They were treated with irony and contempt, and a torrent of persecution followed him through life. He was, in derision, called the Circulator! …a word in Latin meaning quack or vagabond.

The eminent men of Rome and Greece, the schools of Egypt and Arabia, the great anatomical teachers of the Middle Ages, were ignorant of the circulation of blood, and it was not till the seventeenth century that it was understood and demonstrated by Harvey. The College of Physicians, for many years opposed it and made the circulation of the blood the subject of their bitterest satire, and many refused to meet him in consultation.

In the time of King Francis it was customary to stop the blood after amputating a limb, by applying boiling pitch to the bleeding stump. Ambrose Pare, principal surgeon to that king, introduced the ligature as a substitute; he tied the arteries. And what was his reward? He was ridiculed and howled down! …and by whom?

Why by the Faculty of Physicians, who hooted at the idea of hanging human life upon a thread, when boiling pitch had served the purpose for centuries. In vain did he plead the success of the ligature, and the agony of boiling pitch? They pursued him with the most heartless animosity.

Is it a wonder that medical science should have been so tardy in its progress, when environed by such incidents? We have made the foregoing observations for the purpose of showing what obstacles may be expected to intercept the advancement of every and any new principle that may be discovered; and furthermore, for the purpose of showing that opposition, irony and bitterness from the profession, is no certain proof that it is error they are opposing or that wisdom is in imminent danger of dying with them.

A question naturally arises here. If the principles of the Homeopathic system are really so obvious and well established, why is it that the whole medical profession have not adopted it? To give a full answer to this question would require a lecture by itself. It must suffice here to say, that several causes, such as natural indolence – the dread of being obliged to go into new trains of laborious investigations, the pride of learning, unwillingness to acknowledge that others have learned what they do not know; veneration for old and supposed established doctrines; the reputed weakness of credulity, which can be easily induced to believe new things, with the supposed dignity of unbelief, have all conspired, in every age, to deter men from adopting, and to produce resistance to new discoveries.”


We hope for the best in the New Year. As always God bless homeopathy!


About the author

Iman Navab

Iman Navab

Iman Navab is a certified classical Homeopath and doctor of alternative medicine from Canada. He is the President of the Applied Research in Homeopathy Foundation of Canada (www.ARHFC.ca). He is the author of 'Miasma of Cancer', and is a historian of Homeopathy. Iman teaches History and Philosophy of Homeopathy at the Canadian College of Holistic Health. Navab gives lectures and seminars to raise awareness about the rich history of Homeopathy.

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